Irony: *Integral* “flatland” 2

a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.


A “safe space” for denying systemic racism?

It would indeed be nice to make sense of our differences, especially differences we have with the people we love.
So, in the alleged Ken Wilber [kw] quote [in the meme below], just who is being affirmed… those on both sides?
Well, ostensibly everyone. That sounds good, doesn’t it? In this case, i.e., the systemic racism context, it’s both good and problematic. 
It’s good in that all are apparently affirmed. This satisfies a core human tenet; one that is also fundamental to Integral. 
It’s problematic, though not because of who is affirmed. Rather, it’s problematic because of what is implicitly affirmed. It’s problematic, because those who deny the existence of systemic racism hear the statement explicitly affirming their self-deception.
This remark, and *Integral* dogma, serves as a proxy example reflecting Integral’s vulnerability to exploitation as an esoteric cloak.
Whether this is an intended design feature or not, challenging kw‘s remark animates (triggers) those who relate to Integral’s ‘affirm all‘ on a dogmatic basis. It surfaces the frequent esoteric dismissal (gaslighting, paintballing, etc.) of the exoteric

“Irony: *Integral* ‘flatland'”?

—note: please recall, *Integral* = online-Integral

The fact that conjuring coherence around kw‘s systemic racism quote relies on an archvillain of Integral/*Integral* — i.e., ‘boomeritis,’ that is, the (so-called) “mean green meme” [mgm] and its machinations — is rather ironic. 

The perspectival relativism (upper left quadrant, tunnel-vision argument from phenomenology) intrinsic to the very esoteric “both are right” claim is not just a pathway, it’s an expressway to “flatland,” i.e., anti-hierarchy, values relativism.

Identifying with and pressing relative perspectives by imposing them through universal claims — as kw does in the statement — is an extreme-postmodern ploy (of the mgm, so, kw) that effectively enacts a moral relativism [intentionally, or not].



It’s actually magical thinking. Thinking that something doesn’t exist because one has never seen it is magical thinking. To defend kw‘s statement as not being absurd on perspectival relativism grounds is to defend magical thinking, implying/arguing that it may rightly apply universally.  

Adding to the irony is the fact that *Integral* voices are willing to discount and completely dismiss the gravity and holistic place of the exoteric. This may well be a reflection of the ‘superiority’ presumption/posture intrinsic to and plaguing stadial theory since its inception (Turgot, 1750). This was all recently surfaced through the “Stage theory… Is BS” provocation.

So, the idea that an esoteric, ‘flatland’ argument (mgm, so-called) is used to contextualize and justify kw‘s exoterically absurd statement regarding systemic racism is richly ironic. 

Repulse or attract?


How does an “absurd” statement sound and affect those who experience it (diverse hearers)?

So, let’s imagine that a random someone is surfing YouTube and sees, “Integral” something, and says, ‘I think I’ve heard of that.’ Having just read a story about the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, they follow a link to an Integral Life videoblog, ‘Leveling-up on Race.’ The host begins with, and basically grounds the two-hour and forty-minute program in, the kw quote.

In kw‘s alleged statement, the Integrally-initiated might hear an esoteric riddle. They might be curious and inclined to lean-in to learn how this obvious absurdity actually makes sense. I imagine that was the host’s intent/hope.

However, another might hear only the exoteric dimensions of the claim. That often works a bit differently. The people who meet kw‘s statement on an exoteric basis will tend to hear one half of the statement (in black and white terms) as they follow their intuition and retreat/withdraw — the one that matches their confirmation bias. Those who are predisposed to do so will hear the statement as affirming the denial of systemic racism’s existence…. and that, “kw said so!” Others will hear the affirmation that systemic racism is everywhere, so, kw.

What is the precise ratio of one group to the other? I do not know. Robert Kegan’s research might be of interest here.

We do know that the exoteric is general, and intentionally, broadly inclusive; and the esoteric is specific, and intentionally, narrowly exclusive. We know that the exoteric reflects the masses, while the esoteric is, by default, a narrow ghetto. 



Unexpectedly, my research into these matters has stripped the power from the anger and resentment that I’d carried much of my life in response to my dad’s racism. Actually, when my dad grew up (teens/20s), everyone knew that it was simply nature that made white people superior. It was unapologetically baked-in for them… and for me as a small child (1950s). The Brown vs Board decision arguably softened Wsi‘s public edge a bit in the 50s.

The 1964 Civil Rights Act gradually made the conditioning less overt (it became socially unacceptable) for my and following generations than it was for my dad’s generation. Unapologetic Wsi narratives morphed into a more immediately local matter then and far less of a widely broadcast narrative as before.

However, one thing seems abundantly clear today. Color-blind approaches (Boasian proto-antiracism) are harmful, don’t work, and aren’t appropriate. Here it bears repeating: go learn what John 9:41 means.

Next week: Irony: *Integral* exclusion

Your thoughts? 



3 thoughts on “Irony: *Integral* “flatland” 2

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